Christian tourism and its global connectedness
The itineraries of Christian tourist packages from China are designed for pilgrimage to important historical Christian sites in order to get a deeper understanding of the history of Christianity. The destinations include Jesus’s birthplace of Jerusalem; Turkey and Greece where Paul the Apostle went on his missionary journey; and Egypt, where Mount Sinai, the holy site of the Abrahamic religion, is located. According to one report, in the first seven months of 2017, 64000 Chinese travelled to Israel. The research project will focus on the following questions: how are sacred religious sites conceptualized by groups with different interests, including those of transnational entrepreneurs, Christian church leaders and followers? How do religious sites create or reinforce religious experience? How are Christian network bonds strengthened through shared travel experiences? How does Christian tourism compete with so-called Red tourism and the recently prevalent educational trips based on the theme “Remain true to our original aspiration” promoted by the Communist party? What new techniques are being employed to enhance the marketability of religious sites, including sharing personal experience on social media such as Wechat?